NFL playoffs lift CBS to weekly ratings win and give ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ a boost

A young woman in a dark room, her face the only part of her in the light.
“Ozark’s” season premiere, starring Julia Garner, was the most streamed program on Netflix.
(Steve Diet / Netflix)
Share via

CBS’ coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-36 overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday drew the largest audience for an NFL divisional playoff game in five years, with 42.736 million viewers.

The audience was the largest for an NFL divisional playoff game since Fox’s coverage of the Green Bay Packers’ 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 15, 2017, averaged 48.522 million viewers.

The weekend’s other prime-time playoff game, the San Francisco 49ers’ 13-10 victory over the Packers, averaged 36.923 million viewers, the most for a Saturday program in the history of Fox, which began broadcasting in prime time in 1987.


Viewership was up 40.7% from the divisional playoff game that aired in the time slot one year ago.

A specially scheduled post-football episode of “NCIS: Hawai’i” drew the largest audience for a scripted series episode on a broadcast network in the 18-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, 9.789 million viewers, following the seven-minute Chiefs-Bills postgame show that averaged 26.91 million viewers.

Sunday’s opener of a two-part episode of the CBS police procedural was seventh among the prime-time programs airing between Jan. 17 and Sunday, behind three NFL games, two pregame shows and one postgame show, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

The season’s previous high among broadcast scripted shows was 8.52 million for the Jan. 4 episode of the CBS crime drama “FBI.” Two episodes of the Paramount Network neo-western “Yellowstone” drew larger audiences, with its Jan. 2 fourth-season finale averaging 10.3 million viewers and its Nov. 7 season premiere 10.042 million.

The combination of the Kansas City-Buffalo game and having five of the week’s seven most popular entertainment programs gave CBS the largest weekly audience for any network since Fox’s coverage of the opening five games of the 2021 World Series, Oct. 25-31, with 10.37 million. CBS has finished first for three consecutive weeks and six times in the season.

Fox was second, averaging 7.92 million, followed by ABC, which averaged 4.1 million. NBC, the only one of the four major networks without an NFL prime-time game, finished fourth, averaging 3.06 million viewers. The CW averaged 560,000.


CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the most-watched comedy for the 16th consecutive week, averaging 7.981 million viewers to finish eighth.

NBC’s top-ranked program was “Chicago Med,” in ninth with an average of 7.448 million.

“America’s Funniest Home Videos” had ABC’s biggest audience for a non-football program, finishing 23rd and averaging 4.936 million.

Fox’s top-rated non-football program was “WWE’s Friday Night Smackdown,” 68th for the week, averaging 2.255 million.

The superhero series “Superman & Lois” was The CW’s biggest draw for the second time in the two weeks it has aired this season, averaging 1.098 million viewers, 119th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games, two NFL pregame shows, one NFL postgame show, 11 CBS entertainment programs and three NBC entertainment programs.

The top cable program was ESPN’s coverage of the NFL wild-card playoff game between the Rams and the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 17, which averaged 8.832 million viewers. The Rams’ 34-11 victory also aired on ABC.


Fox News Channel won the cable network race, following four consecutive second-place finishes behind ESPN, averaging 2.378 million viewers. ESPN was second, averaging 1.85 million, followed by MSNBC, which averaged 1.147 million, and HGTV, which averaged 1.125 million.

CNN was 14th for the second consecutive week, averaging 570,000 viewers, 3.1% less than its 588,000 average the previous week. CNN also trailed Hallmark Channel (951,000), TLC (894,000), History (753,000), Discovery (747,000), Food Network (729,000), Lifetime (642,000), TNT (615,000), TBS (597,000) and Investigation Discovery (572,000).

The top 20 cable programs consisted of ESPN’s coverage of the Rams-Cardinals playoff game and its 14-minute kickoff show; 13 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”; three editions of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show”; the Hallmark Channel movie “Don’t Forget I Love You”; and History’s long-running chronicle of a search for treasure on a Canadian island, “The Curse of Oak Island.”

“The Royal Treatment” was the most-streamed English-language movie on Netflix, as viewers spent 42.49 million hours on the romantic comedy in its first four days of release. The romantic thriller “Brazen” dropped one spot to second with 28.57 million hours watched, 37% less than the 45.34 million hours watched the previous week, when it was available for four days.

Netflix’s most popular television program was “Ozark,” with viewers watching the first seven episodes of the crime drama’s fourth and final season for 77.01 million hours in their first three days of release.

The horror series “Archive 81” rose five spots to second with 70.98 million hours watched of its eight episodes in their first full week of release. Viewership was up 219.4% from the 22.22 million hours watched the previous week, when it was available for three days.